Hawkeye alumni share 'Signal & Noise' of creativity in gallery show

posted on Wednesday, April 14, 2021 in  College News

WATERLOO — “Signal-to-noise” is a formula used in gathering statistics. It refers to ability of a message to be detected above its background.

Curator Lindsay Buehler adapted the phrase as the title of a new art show, “Signal and Noise,” now through May 13, at the Hawkeye Art Gallery on the third floor at the Van G. Miller Adult Learning Center.

“The signal,” she said, “is the meaningful information you’re trying to convey or communicate. In this case, it’s the message the artist is trying to communicate, and the noise is the chaos, trauma or unrest in the world around them.”

There are 30 pieces in the inaugural alumni show inspired by or created in response to recent world events, including the coronavirus pandemic and protests, said Buehler, Hawkeye Community College arts and culture coordinator, created by 14 former students and alumni.

Originally intended as a fall show, the opening date was moved when the campus went to virtual classes in response to COVID-19. Buehler and work-study student assistants combed through the last 15 years of records on Hawkeye’s annual Student Art Show to come up with a mailing list of artists. The call for artists went out via mail, website and social media posts. She was surprised and pleased by the response.

“Alumni and students really embraced the idea. They were excited to be given a platform to express what they were feeling and how they’ve used the arts to cope and bring ourselves back from a year of COVID. It’s also nice to have a formal gallery space to show off the art. You can feel the energy as you move through the exhibit,” Buehler explained.

Artworks include mixed media, oil on canvas, acrylic on canvas and other media. “There are amazing variations in themes, and it’s interesting to see what resonated with artists. One graphics artist took their digital work and created a physical piece from it.”

For that piece, Chris Corkery stretched a face mask across the wooden shape of Iowa, and printed the names of individuals lost to COVID-19 on the piece. Jane Beecher-Scott contributed two COVID-themed pieces, one a collection of colorful masks with dialogue bubbles titled “Speaking Out of Both Sides of the Mask,” and a second piece called “Life Matters.”

Hawkeye photography instructor Larry Erickson contributed four paintings he created while taking lessons from Hawkeye art professor emeritus Kim Behm featuring Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Bob Dylan and David Bowie.

Several paintings by Benjamin Smith, founder of Eyeodine and a former Behm student, are on display, as are photographs taken by alum Katharine Petersen at last year’s Black Lives Matter protests in Chicago.

Other artists represented are Mason Goerend, Mike Hollingsworth, SaHarra Lawrence, John McCormick, Naomi McCormick, Alex Miller, Elizabeth Reid and Ashley Whitessell.

Meghan Erdman received the Grow the Arts award for her pencil-on-paper piece, chosen by the art faculty and gallery and exhibit committee. The Hawkeye alum now teaches at Eagle Grove.

A faculty art show took place in 2019 that was well-received and provided impetus to create the alumni exhibition. “The faculty show generated a great deal of warmth and camaraderie, so we’ll likely do the shows on a rotating basis,” Buehler said.

Hawkeye Community College is now affiliated with the new organization Limelight, as well, Buehler added, “because we see the need to support the arts and individual artists.”

Melody Parker, Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier


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  2. Arts and Culture
  3. Van G. Miller Adult Learning Center
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